Tuesday, August 22, 2017

EDITORIAL >> Two cities plan vote on liquor

Both the Sherwood and Jacksonville city councils last week passed ordinances Thursday asking the Pulaski County Election Commission to give a legal description of the defunct Gray Township, which remains dry and saddles both cities. Officials in both cities want to allow restaurants to serve “alcohol by the drink” everywhere, not just in wet areas and in “private clubs.”

About half of Sherwood is dry and 90 percent of Jacksonville is dry because Gray Township voters decided more than 60 years ago to ban alcohol, according to The Leader’s Rick Kron.

A bill passed by the state legislature last session allows the cities to schedule a vote on the issue, but first the boundaries of the defunct township must be officially determined. Once the election commission provides that information in a few weeks, both councils will meet again Sept. 7 to approve an ordinance calling for a vote.

The councils will set a fall election date. Even though the voting will be on the same day, each precinct will be tallied separately so there is a chance that only a portion of Jacksonville could become wet.

City officials and chambers of commerce are pushing the vote as a way to stimulate economic development and hope to attract high-end restaurants and steakhouses that serve alcohol. Both Sherwood and Jacksonville would make excellent choices for national chains, which would create jobs and attract diners who have to travel to Little Rock and North Little Rock.